AMA Responds to Wall Street Journal Lawsuit on Physician Payment Data

The AMA has issued a statement defending the privacy of physician payment data in the face of a lawsuit filed by Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

Noting that the AMA obtained an injunction against revealing the data in 1979 and the injunction still stands, the Journal said in a report that free access to the data would help the newspaper expose Medicare fraud and evaluate the quality and cost of healthcare.

In a statement, AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, argued that physicians have a right to keep complex payment data, which is subject to misinterpretation, out of the public domain. "Physicians, like all Americans, have the right to privacy and due process, and should not suffer the consequences of having false or misleading conclusions drawn from complex Medicare data that has significant limitations," Dr. Wilson said.

He added that physicians are already well scrutinized by a variety of enforcement agencies. "Physicians who provide care to Medicare patients are already subject to widespread governmental oversight, including scrutiny by Medicare carriers, the Office of Inspector General and 53 quality improvement organizations," Dr. Wilson said. "These federal agencies and contractors have access to the full-range of Medicare data and are aggressively ferreting out improper claims."

Read more recent coverage on physician privacy:

- Dow Jones Sues to Open Physician Payment Database, Look for Fraud

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